Grill-Roasted Butternut Squash Stuffed With The Flavors of Fall
The goosebumps rather confidently ran up the back of my forearm, hugged my elbow curve perfectly, and continued upward, only to swiftly slalom around my shoulder and nearby neck connections like a Formula 1 car on its way to victory. The sensation continued, coming to rest at the base of my brain where it relentlessly installed the notion that Fall temps were on the way. Indeed, the now blustery wind that was but a gentle breeze only moments ago contained a tiny but noticeable chill that signaled a change was coming. That signal changes the way we think about our food as well, and while most may take that to mean a plethora of pumpkin-spiced everything (erratically waving hands around), to me, that shift in thinking has to do with a combo of sausage, squash, and apples. So that is where we stand today, with the enjoyable shiver of anticipated fall-like temperatures complemented by a filling meal of roasted butternut squash filled with Italian chicken sausage, diced apples, shallots, spinach, garlic, and fresh herbs. Let’s get after it…
The squash was about two and a half pounds and sliced rather easily, unlike some that I’ve had, causing me to get up on the counter and leverage myself by jumping on the handle of the knife to get it through the whole thing. Once split, the seeds were scooped, and then the two halves were given the once over with some olive oil and a generous coating of salt and fresh cracked black pepper. Laid flesh side down over the indirect heat side of a hardwood-loaded grill with cherrywood chunks to provide the necessary 400° heat, these beauties can then be left to roast for the next 50 to 60 minutes while under the watchful eye of the trusty Weber.
The stuffing will be the star, and you can use just about anything you want or crave to put into that squash. Today that stuffing includes about a half pound of Italian chicken sausage, a few slices of unused pancetta (not pictured as it was found just hanging out in the fridge), a couple of cups of baby spinach, some chopped shallots, minced garlic, and a fresh chopped herb combo of rosemary and sage.
So let’s get this party started by browning up the sausage, taken out of the casing, and that pancetta that was lurking about in the fridge. Into a preheated cast iron skillet it goes.
Add in the onions, garlic, and baby spinach when the meat is just starting to brown.
Stir baby, stir. And keep stirring until the spinach surrenders to its destiny of being fully engulfed in the mix.
Add the diced apple, sage, and rosemary. Continue cooking, just until the apples are no longer crunchy. Pull the pan from the heat and let it sit and marinate with itself until you’re ready to stuff.
The squash is ready and can now be easily scooped to meet your scooping expectation. However deep of a squash boat you want to make, now’s your opportunity. The more you scoop, the more room you have for stuffing, and the more roasted squash you have to use in other dishes or for snacking. And I’m telling ya now that it’s already pretty tasty.
Pack your squash boats with your stuffing, really jamming it in there tight, so it stays put. This stuffing filled both of these squash halves nicely, with only one spoonful remaining…you know, the griller’s portion.
Back to the grill for another 10-15 minutes, but this time, I situated the squash on a flipped-over vegetable cooking pan to get the squash up into the dome of the grill where the heat is a little more intense and will add a little browning action.
That’s it. We did it. Time to remove and serve this complete squash meal, containing everything you want in every spoonful. Roasted squash, browned sausage, smokey sweet apples, spinach, garlic, shallots, and fresh herbs kissed with smoke to give you that great aroma and recognizable taste of Fall, all while squashing your appetite, wink, wink.
Because Life Is Better Wood-Fired
Fall Harvest Stuffed Butternut Squash
- 1 Charcoal grill
- Hardwood Charcoal and Wood Smoking Chunks, if Desired
- 1 Cast Iron Pan
- 1 Squash, Butternut, Acorn, etc
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 lb Italian seasoned chicken sausage
- 4 slices pancetta
- 2 cups baby spinach, tightly packed
- 1 apple peeled and diced
- 3 cloves fresh garlic, minced
- 2 shallots, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp rosemary, finely chopped
- 1 1/2 tbsp sage, finely chopped